John I subscribe to your logic, only to a point, and that point has to
do with a recognition that most peopel using paper media do not have the
tools to do much more than create plain text in common fonts. Only
recently has desktop publishing given us the ability to "get fancy" and
sure enough, paper mail is getting fancier, as we speak.
Sorry. I don't think this is worth pursuing much further, but I don't
think I was clear. I wasn't making a comparison to what people do with
desktop publishing, or even typewriters, but to what they do with
implements like pens when "writing" mail. With those historical
devices, illumination, underlining, circling, sketches in the margins,
trick intention, etc., have *always* been available, at least since we
graduated from the chisel-and-stone technologies for writing.
One might suggest that, from a technological standpoint, DTP is only
now beginning to catch up, and hasn't arrived yet.
We have all observed, since the day that it was discovered that
computers could fully justify fixed-pitch typewriter fonts very easily
and moving forward into the period of fancy DTP programs on many
desktops, that the ability to use these tools does not make someone into
a graphic designer or bestow taste. I think an optimistic view -- not
a gloomy one -- is that people will gradually get tired of "fancy" for
its own sake and go back to plain text where plain text does quite well.
Maybe one more observation is worthwhile here. In lots of
communities, strong cases are made against emailing Postscript. Why?
Well, not because it can't be displayed, but because it is a PDL and
people want texts they can work with: scan, revise, extract, grep, etc.
"If you are going to send Postscript, why not save the trouble and just
use the fax machine?". I sit in an Architecture department. The
designers around me communicate by pictures, and their predecessors have
done so for centuries. But the image arrangements we are standardizing
won't do them any good because they represent bit maps, not
revisable-form drawings or sketches.
Again, this is not an argument against anything in RFC-XXXX, only for
a perspective on what problems we are solving. RFC-XXXX has as much
potential to increase the bandwidth consumption due to total nonsense as
it does to save the world for multimedia transmission. I do predict an
increase in the sending on non-plain-text after RFC-XXXX agents are
deployed with appropriate supporting tools. I don't predict much
average increase in information content as a result except in very
specific (and not very large) communities.